Many think that America's founding was "Christian" in the best sense of the meaning. However, if being Christian is having a personal relationship with God, it becomes impossible collectively speaking, for a nation to have that kind of relationship with God. Therefore, America at best could only be influenced by Christian thought, it cannot be an institutional example set up by God such as Israel. This then debunks the concept of America attaining covenant nation status as some teachers have tried to espouse, in trying to buttress the need to go out and re-take what is ours, according to their estimation.Tim goes on to explain the problems American Christians run into when they try to advocate a particular "Christian" view of American history. Though the following quotations from the book run long, it is well worth your time to read them. They should help entice you to purchase Tim's book and read the rest of the cogent, biblically supported 275 pages that helps us understand our Christian identity is never to be wrapped up in the rise or fall of any nation, including the United States.
As a lover of history, and a conservative, evangelical Christian who believes in the supremacy of God's word, I don't think I have ever read a more appropriate sentence on the subject of a believer's identity in Christ--particularly the believer who happens to live in the United States of America--than the one highlighted in bold print above.
The Secular View of America's History
Conservatives judge the public school's rendition of American history to be revisionistic. This word describes the purposed removal of certain bits of information that do not support a presupposed theory or philosophy employed to analyze any certain era. In plain words, Christians accuse secularists in the education system of systematically eliminating all references to God or Christianity which naturally occurred in American History. Since many of the educational elite do not believe in God, they don't want others to see His hand in any historical affair and be tempted to believe in Him. In an effort to carry out their agenda, they simply delete historical accounts referencing God or Christianity's influence in the events of this country. Christian conservatives are reasonably accurate in their concerns and analysis of what is happening in the public education system.
Now, can we learn from this rendition (the secularists') of history? Not really; this view is inaccurate. It has been purposely twisted and is therefore unreliable.
The Providential View of America's History
Now that we have perspective on the secular view of American History, let's look at conservative Christians themselves to see how they fare at an accurate telling of America's founding. A small group within the conservative Christian populace reacted to the public school system squelching God out of the picture in the historical accounts of this country's founding. In turn, they have gathered a telling of their own about this period to reassert "the truth." Their rendition of America's origin is termed providential; meaning that events of the founding were controlled and/or orchestrated for God's divine purpose.
In the 1970's there was one book published which sparked unprecedented interest in this perspective, entilted "The Light and the Glory." This book is a fanciful reinterpretation of many real historical events. It is devoid of many facts that would otherwise deflate the theoretic position that America was ever a Christian-Nation. "The Light and the Glory" is not an accurate telling of history, just a very partial one. We cannot divorce all the realities while recounting an era of history and still call it correct. What is godly about rebellion, slavery, the (mis)treatment of Indians, Freemasonry, Unitarianism, Deism and Enlightenment thinking, which are all intrinsically part of the fabric of this country's founding? Where in the Bible do you find the ideas of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" Why was this country in such need of the Second Great Awakening if this country was a Christian-Nation, as the authors suggest? The authors blatantly gloss over many other facts to arrive at their conclusion that America was a special nation of destiny in God's economy, a "convenant nation" as some term it.
Can we really learn from this view of history? Not really.
Politically conservative believers that allow themselves to subscribe to this particular retelling of history are nothing more than pots calling the kettle black. Without realizing it, they have become just as revisionistic as their archnemesis, "the liberal education system."
The Conspiratorial View of America's History
To add confusion to the mix, there is yet a third perspective with a different approach to history than the first two. The "conspiratorial" view contends that history is being engineered or purposely designed by certain entities or power groups rather than being accidental or providential as the other two pwerspectives espouse. Conspiratorialists believe that there are "dark forces" at work behind the scenes at all levels of government to subject the world and its population to a one-world government. They have support to look at history in this fashion and they have published reams of facts and documentation over the years.
So, can we really learn from this view of history?
Not really. This view is known to be questionable in its assumptions and is therefore unreliable. The conspiracy theories create a paranoia and build an unnatural suspicion in its readership. Conspiratorialism questions the scriptural teaching that Christ has overcome the world. Believers should not be afraid and always suspicious. Most conspiracies are not as pervasive as many conspiratorialists would like to make it appear. Certainly, there is conspiracy within the human realm. Yet it is no stretch biblically speaking to say that conspiracy is also a device of the enemy of our souls. It is just as plausible to believe that the enemy and his minions orchestrate much of what the conspiratorialists interpret to be a strictly humanly devised affair on the physical level.
The subject of the importance of American history and the lack of validity of an emass political push to "reclaim America" over the past 40 years could be quickly resolved if we went back to scripture as our source of objectivity and truth. The significance, or more correctly the insignificance of recent historical events to the follower of Christ, such as the founding of America, could also be addressed. We could see that our identity as Christians is not established in the ethnicity or nationality we acquired through entering this world. As followers of Christ we would not be divided against the rest of the Body of Christ around the world by allowing ourselves to maintain an identity with America after conversion, through any telling of history. Finally, we could also see that we would have a better worldview if we didn't cloud it by giving ourselves signficance through accepting American History as being anything other than the rise and expected fall of another human empire, even as extraordinary as it has been.
That little nag in the back of my mind caused by Lesson 10 of The Truth Project has been satisfactorily scratched. Thanks Tim.
In His Grace,